Baboon Pirates

Scribbles and Scrawls from an unrepentant swashbuckling primate.

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Location: Texas, United States

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Dog Days

I am currently without a canine companion, and have been for some years. Part of it was living in an apartment for a long time. It's really not fair to keep an active dog cooped up all day, and the kind of dogs that do OK in small apartments are a bit too fragile and/or yappy for me to cohabitate with.

The other part is a lackluster record with owning dogs previously. We've owned three in my lifetime. Jacques, a Standard Poodle that was one of Dad's wedding gifts to Mom was the first dog. By the time I showed up on the scene, the poodle was well into adulthood. From the photographic evidence, I seemed to enjoy having a dog around, but my only real memory of Jacques was the last night of its life as it vomited and quivered, too sick to even drink water. Dad took it to the vet, and Jacques never came back. Mom said that Jacques got really sick and had to be put to sleep, then the vet put him into a box and took him away. That's better than the truth, I suppose. Telling your kid that the family dog got incinerated or dumped in a landfill would've been great for my psyche at that age. I never quite trusted vets to give you your pet back after that, either.

The next dog was Terry, the Wire-haired Fox Terrier. You can see the ingenuity of a young kid participating in the naming process on that one! Good enough dog, I suppose, except that it never quit jumping on people, and barked constantly. Dad was away on business a lot, and Mom & I knew nothing of raising and training dogs, at least not enough beyond making half-hearted attempts at getting it to behave. Terry finally got taken to live out in the country with a family that volunteered to take her after we had a go-round with the neighbors about the incessant barking.

Dog #3 was the low point. Dad brought home a tiny little ball of fur not long after Terry the Terrier had been relocated. It was a Cock-A-Poo that got named Mischief, and carried the worst traits of both breeds. The dog was about as sharp as a sack of wet mice, and grew this almost impenetrable mass of fur that we would have to shave off periodically. Brushing it out was impossible. As the dog grew older, and it could never quite grasp the concepts of "Fetch" and "Stay", I lost interest. My sister never did take to it very much. It would have been one of the all-time top contenders in the Nastiest Dog-Breath in the World contest. We moved to Houston, and went from a house to a townhome. Mischief's 1/8 acre backyard went to a 8' x 14' fenced in patio. Mom wasn't having the dog inside the house, so out there it sat. And there the madness began.

I was in Junior High at the time (Middle school, for all you Yankees) and between Boy Scouts, band, friends, and everything else that occupies a young teen's time, Mischief got a very small slice of the available time left. Mom & Dad would feed him, but that was the limit of their involvement. It was "the kid's dog" after all.

The dog got brought inside during rainstorms, at least the ones that someone was home when they began. We never walked him much. He never learned to quit pulling on the leash, making each walk an adventure in being dragged along. Even training with a choke chain, and finally one of the "super bad dog" pronged chokechains failed to keep him under control. He would just keep charging forward until the prongs drew blood, and he began rasping from lack of air. Like I said, not a very bright dog. If I had known then what I know now, I would have had him put down then, if just to save him from the years ahead.

Once high school began, Mischief was an afterthought at best. We were back in a house, the dog had a big backyard to live in & a doghouse, but the 3 years on that patio porch had done irreparable damage. Mischief could no longer stand rainstorms or enclosed spaces. We would bring it into the garage, but it would scratch at the inside of the door until you went out to keep it company. We moved three different times when I was in high school, and each time, Mischief's behavior got worse. It became a running joke among my friends what a worthless dog I had. By my senior year, the dog had begun tearing through doors. It would scratch constantly when left inside, wearing its claws down to nubs. Mom finally decreed the dog was banished to the garage during rainstorms, no longer was it welcome inside the house. The dog promptly clawed through the garage door, tunneled out through the fence, and escaped.

This became a ritual with the rainstorms, and it rains in Houston a lot. Patch the door & fence. Put dog in garage when rain starts. In the morning, go hunt around the streets looking for wandering dog. By the time I left for college, I was sick of it. Sick of the abuse from my friends, sick of the dog, sick of my parents for getting the damn thing in the first place. More than once I would sit out in the backyard, pointing a rifle at Mischief's head, wishing I had the balls to just pull the trigger and be done with it. Dumbass fucking dog would just sit there staring at you, wagging his tail.

I'd come back during the semester breaks, shave down the dog, patch the fence, and wonder how long it would go on. Dad patched the inside of the garage door with sheet steel. Finally, the dog tunneled out after literally tearing through the side of the garage. Went through the tarpaper, sheetrock, and wooden siding. All in one night. I shit you not. There's a ventilation fan mounted in the hole now.

We never saw Mischief again. I did look for several days. I owed the stupid mutt that much. He never turned up, either in the SPCA, City or County pounds. I had had enough of dogs at that point. Nothing but cats from here on out, I vowed.

Y'know, it's kind of funny. My dog-owning friends love their animals. They've got as many pictures of their pets as they do of their kids. I don't have a single picture of Mischief. Not one. I guess he was just never important enough for that Kodak moment.

The Mischief debacle was the prime reason that I never even considering owning a dog, or felt I was really suitable for owning a dog, for years and years. For that matter, as a result of the experience, I still think that kids might not be such a great idea either. I seem to do OK with cats. Betsy Cat and Pookie Cat are doing great, though I probably give them too many kitty-treats.

I'd sure like another try at a dog, though, now that I'm old enough and wise enough to do it right. I've always liked weiner dogs, and a trio of dachshunds would be great company for me, and for each other. Name 'em Andouille, Kielbasa and Chorizo. Still, I gotta get a new fence built, put in a doggie door (no more outside dogs, EVER. Out of sight, out of mind was the biggest problem, IMO) and build lots of high cat-stands for Betsy Cat and Pookie Cat to hide out in. It takes a wad of cash for all that, plus vet bills, the cost of the dogs, training classes, etc. so it'll be a few more years.

So, I make do with my friend's dogs. Rockhauler's got a cool beagle named Sweet Pea. Andy has a pair of dogs, but I've only met one of them. My sister and her husband have a pair as well. They're kinda cool, and I have pics as well!

Here's Sis & B.I.L. with their Evil Rat Terrier of Doom, Ashley. (Name a dog after an interior designer, and it turns to evil...)

Here's their other dog, Ellie. Ellie's kind of a goof.

Here's a pic of my extremely pregnant sister, with her Primary Dog, Ellie, and her Emergency Backup Dog, Ashley.
Note that the Fires of Perdition burn brightly in the eyes of Evil Rat Terrier of Doom.

So, there's my shaggy-dog story.

A quick note to you PETA fanatics or those who feel the need to chastise me for Mischief's poor treatment. Don't even bother hitting the 'Comment' button. There's not a goddamned thing you can say that I haven't already said to myself over the years, so give it a rest. If you gotta do something, write a sob story about how my whole family ought to burn in hell/rot in jail/be eaten by rabid emus, then link back over here. I could use the traffic.

Adios, Perros perdidos...